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DeSantis Bans Learning

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Florida governor Ronald DeSantis promotes stupidity and bans learning.

The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Articulation said the course is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,” even though Africans were in Florida before it was even part of the United States. There are several AP courses that are offered by the state that are language/culture courses that are either European or Asian. There is even an art history course, but an African American studies course would be too much for the Floridian sensibilities. I wonder what DeSantis, the descendant of Italian immigrants, feels about the Italian language and culture AP course that is offered.

Sure, he has no qualms with the Italian language and culture AP class.

As a product of the Florida public school system myself, including university, I can assure you there were more than enough classes about other cultures and a dearth of classes about my own. This was thematic throughout my education. In sixth grade geography, we learned about every continent except Africa; my history degree track required a certain amount of courses from either South American history, American history, European history, or Asian history. There were no African history tracks offered.  

A ban on learning isn’t a new tactic. The Nazis burned books and the McCarthy-era red scare took aim at the intellects and progressives of the time. It is not difficult to draw comparisons between Ron DeSantis and other anti-progressive lawmakers like former Alabama governor George Wallace, who infamously proclaimed, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!!” He will always be cemented in history books as a bigot unless another bigot comes along and denies people the right to learn about it.  Sweeping history’s most difficult moments under the rug or ignoring them is not some time machine that can erase the past. Segregation was not just some oopsie from a long, long time ago.  Many of us millennials’ parents were born during segregation and attend segregated schools, some of them in the Jim Crow south. That trauma does not get undone simply because you do not tell anyone about it.  

Yesterday, I spoke with an associate history professor at the University of Central Florida, who is also my former professor, Dr. Robert Cassanello. Dr. Cassanello filed a lawsuit against DeSantis’ ‘Stop woke Act,’ last April, challenging its constitutionality. When it comes to DeSantis, Dr. Cassanello asserts, “unfortunately, voters don’t punish demagogs until it’s too late.” He continued about how DeSantis is not much different than the demagogs before him, who made a play for short yet extremely memorable political careers.  He asserts that DeSantis’ targeted attack on a more comprehensive history is because he is “losing the hearts and minds of the voter” and that his antics are an act of “desperation.” After signing bills that were anti-tech and anti-protest, both of those bills were struck down by a judge, which makes you wonder if DeSantis, who studied history at Yale and graduated from Harvard Law, even cares about constitutionality but rather knows that his bills will not get passed but will promote his political aspirations. The more he can convince white conservatives and moderates that marginalized groups are the problem, the more he can keep the attention of that voting demographic. 

There are millions of people in this country whose ancestors came here against their will, and somehow that will be completely swept under the rug. Today’s high schoolers still have relatives who experienced Jim Crow. Segregation may not be actively legal, but redlining, gerrymandering and gentrification are all happening in real-time and affecting Black communities. How can you truly value education if you believe that learning about anyone’s history, but more specifically African American history, the roots of a specific culture whose influence is felt globally, has no “intrinsic value.” DeSantis’s anti-woke campaign is a thinly veiled bid for the presidency. A presidency that will surely divide the country even more than Trump’s, just with less of a caricature to mock. 

DeSantis is trouble with a capital History. 

“The older I get the more I’m convinced that it’s the purpose of politicians and journalists to say the world is very simple, whereas it’s the purpose of historians to say, ‘No! It’s very complicated.’ The job of the historian is to help give people a sense of existence in time, without which wea are really not fully human.” -David Cannadine

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